How to take over from an incompetent project manager

Monday, December 2nd, 2013 By Jack Nevison

Project managers know that it can be difficult to fill big shoes. When taking over a project, many would no doubt prefer that their predecessors were not too skilled at the job. After all, that might make the new manager look worse by comparison. When taking over for an utterly incompetent manager, a team leader should be prepared to handle some very emotional issues.

Writing for the Harvard Business Review blog, contributor Roger Schwarz gave some helpful advice to managers who need to build a strong team amid the rubble of a poorly-run organization.

First, Schwartz writes that it is important to understand what team members have been through. "Even if you have worked with the team or been a team member,…ask about the challenges they have faced and what concerns they have." They could be feeling severe stress caused by an inconsistent and demanding boss, compounded by lots of inefficient office processes. In order to build team unity, new managers should signal that they know what has gone wrong and that they have a plan to make things better.

It is also important to be patient with team members as you implement your changes. At first, they may not perform up to the highest standards. But this is not necessarily due to their own deficiencies as workers. Some may need time to get used to the new ways of doing things. Others may have concerns that they hesitate to mention, since their opinions were never taken seriously by previous bosses.

At New Leaf Project Management, we believe that most incompetent managers can become skilled with the right training. Our 3-day program, "Five Sigma Project Management," will give you a firm foundation in project management essentials, while our 2-day "Leading Project Teams" will show you how to turn any team into a high-performing team.

In addition, our white papers and QPM quizzes let you learn while you earn PDU credits for PMP recertification.

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